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Measuring Adequate Yearly Progress Under ESSA

In 2001, President George W. Bush signed a very important law, the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 (NCLB). The NCLB Act ensured every student could do well in public school.

The NCLB set up a system called Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) to keep schools accountable. AYP checked if schools were helping their students learn more each year. Schools had to ensure students were getting better at reading and math. They had to test students every year to prove it. If schools didn't show that their students were making progress, they could get into trouble. This was the government's way of ensuring schools did their job right.

The NCLB Act was a reauthorization of a bigger law called the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA). Congress first passed ESEA in 1965. The ESEA was about giving money to schools, especially those with kids needing extra student performance help. Schools now had to follow state standards and ensure teacher quality. The idea was to make sure every student gets a high-quality education.

The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) replaced NCLB. This article explores how adequate yearly progress gets measured under ESSA compared with the NCLB Act.

The Transition to the Every Student Succeeds Act

After many years, people started to see that AYP and NCLB were causing problems. Not all schools could meet the high standards set by the federal government. Some schools that needed help were getting punished instead of supported. So, in 2015, President Barack Obama's administration worked with Congress to make a new law. This law is the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). This new law replaced NCLB and changed how schools had to show they were helping students learn.

ESSA gave more power back to the states to decide how to make sure schools were doing well. States could now create their own accountability systems and decide what to do with schools that needed improvement. This meant states could look at more than just test scores when deciding how well a school was doing. They could also review how happy students were and how many students graduated. They could also track whether students were ready for college or a career.

The Role of the National Assessment of Educational Progress

In the middle of all these changes, there's been one constant. This constant has been the National Assessment of Educational Progress, or NAEP, the Nation's Report Card. NAEP is a big test that's been around since the 1960s. It doesn't test every student, but it gives a good idea of how students across the U.S. are doing in subjects like reading, math, science, and writing. NAEP is important because it helps everyone understand if the education system works well. It's like a check-up for the nation's school performance.

The Impact of ESSA on Schools

Under ESSA, schools still must test students in reading and math every year. They have to test students during their third-grade to eighth-grade school years and once in high school. But now, states have more say in how to help low-performing schools. States can take different approaches to close achievement gaps. They can create mandates for more support for teachers, such as special education programs for students with disabilities.

Evaluating Options: Considerations for Students at Underperforming Schools

Schools that consistently fail to make AYP as outlined by ESSA can face various consequences. These consequences can include interventions mandated by the state or federal government. This can include the implementation of improvement plans or the redirection of federal funding to support improvement efforts. It can also involve restructuring the school's administration or governance. Schools must promptly address underlying issues to ensure all students get a quality education.

Some parents may choose to take matters into their own hands. When considering whether to transfer your child from a failing school, take several factors into account:

  1. Consider the overall school performance. Compare the performance of the school with other schools statewide. Look at standardized state test scores and graduation rates. A decline in performance may show systemic issues that could affect your child's education.
  2. Assess your child's academic progress. If they are thriving, you may not need to transfer your child. Conversely, if your child struggles, they may not get enough support. Transferring to a school district with better resources may benefit students who need improvement.
  3. Look at your available resources and support. Determine if the school is trying to address the performance issues and if there are opportunities for improvement. This could include interventions for struggling groups of students. It could also have extra tutoring services or teacher training programs.
  4. Consider your community and extracurricular activities. A supportive community and engagement in extracurricular activities can help. It can boost student achievement in child development and well-being.

You should decide to transfer your child based on a comprehensive assessment. Consider your child's needs and the school's capacity to support their academic group. Assess their overall environment and the prospects of the school. Learn more about low-performing schools on FindLaw's Parent Trigger Laws: Overview article.

Looking Ahead in Education Reform

Education laws like NCLB and ESSA ensure schools help students learn and grow. Over the years, the U.S. has learned much about what works and what doesn't in education. State and federal laws change because people want to make the education system better for everyone. With ESSA, the hope is to give schools and states more freedom to meet their students' needs. They can make education policies that help meet their academic achievement goals. It's all about balancing rules with the freedom to try new things and ensuring every student can reach their full potential.

Getting Legal Help With ESSA

Getting legal help with ESSA can benefit your child. This is true if you believe your child's school is not meeting its obligations under this federal law. ESSA provides guidelines for accountability and assessment. It also provides an avenue for support for schools to ensure all students get a quality education. If you suspect your child's school is not complying, seek legal help. Consult an education law attorney about your case today.

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